By Tom Demerly for TriSports.com.
Any discussion of Quintana Roo has to start with the knowledge that they invented the triathlon bike as we know it today. And wetsuit. QR Founder and Triathlon Hall of Fame inductee Dan Empfield could be described as the “Thomas Edison” of triathlon. His long list of innovations span every aspect of the industry from media to equipment. While Empfield sold Quintana Roo years ago his innovative spirit still inspires QR’s new generations of engineers to keep thinking sideways. In the case of the CD 0.1 using “Shift” technology, the sideways thinking is almost literal.
“…significant drag savings could be gained if the flow of air was even partially redirected away from the crankset and drivetrain.”
Shift technology may be the best reason on a long list of reasons to consider the CD 0.1. Shift frame design is the offset orientation of the down tube as it meets the bottom bracket. It was developed by Quintana Roo during wind tunnel tests that revealed the crank, chainrings and front derailleur generated significant “parasite drag” to the boundary layer of air passing over the frame. Early prototypes from QR included large fairings over the crank, a potentially difficult mechanical design. This concept died an early death, with few photos ever being seen. The entirely faired crank concept was far from a bust for QR though as it lead to the realization that significant drag savings could be gained if the flow of air was even partially redirected away from the crankset and drivetrain. It was the beginning of Shift technology.
Other manufacturers have adopted some version of offset downtube/bottom bracket design. Some suggest the primary benefit is bottom bracket stiffness. Quintana Roo’s Shift design extends beyond simply off-setting the downtube to the orientation of the entire down tube coming out of the head tube. As viewed from the bottom/front the QR Shift downtube angles off to the rider’s right over its entire length. While it isn’ conspicuous as seen from the side, it is obvious viewed from the bottom.
“QR is the only only manufacturer to change the orientation of the down tube to manage airflow.”
Manufacturers will always argue their wind tunnel findings are the most authoritative and pragmatic. Set against this backdrop Quintana Roo is the only manufacturer so far to change the orientation of the entire down tube to manage airflow. If you doubt all manufacturers’ claims that their frame is the best, and you should since they all claim “best”, then you can’t deny that Quintana Roo is the only one with an offset downtube. Logic suggests it has to exert an effect. QR maintains the effect is lower drag. Linking the two isn’t much of a leap of faith.
Quintana Roo uses Shift technology on six bike models; five versions of the CD 0.1 and the new Illicito with its unique, single seatstay design. The bike we’re looking at here is the CD 0.1 Red.
Component selection often makes or breaks a buying decision and QR seemed mindful of the careful component shopper when equipping the SRAM Red version of the CD 0.1.
Starting at the cockpit the 2012 Quintana Roo CD 0.1 Red we tested used a new Vision Vector “R” bend aerobar. This aerobar is elegantly adjustable for extension length. The composite arm rests are adjustable for width and stiff enough to feel solid but have some “give” to soak up rough roads. Vision went through a brief phase when their polymer/composite elbow pads were too flexible. That’s been fixed with this new generation pad. The pads are adjustable for height by using the little allow airfoil shaped spacers that come in the package with Vision aerobars. There are two heights with corresponding bolt lengths. Our bike also used a new “legal” aspect ratio aero base bare from Vision with a nice powder coat finish.
Controls on the cockpit include SRAM Return to Center shifters, which are greatly improved over original versions, and carbon fiber blade TRP spring loaded brake levers. The brake levers in particular have a nice, wide ergonomic shape and feel great.
Quintana Roo has finally got their aerodynamic brakes right with this latest version of the TRP aero brake. The brakes opens wide enough for even the widest aero wheels like new version HED and Zipp Firecrest wheels and, most importantly, have a sure-stopping feel. Brakes sit behind the fork on the CD 0.1 as an aerodynamic que. As viewed from the front the fork blades bow away from the wheel. This design, used by a few manufacturers, allows air to pass with less turbulence and drag between the fork blade and rotating wheel. The outward bow of the fork blades also adds comfort to front end ride quality.
The main triangle on the CD 0.1 uses two water bottle mounts, a nice feature for long distance training rides and races. The Shift downtube has a deep, aerodynamic shape while the top tube is slightly flattened to allow some compliance. The internal cable routing dives into the tube just behind the headset.
Seat tube on the CD 0.1 owes some of its sleek appearance to the repositioning of the rear brake to underneath the bottom bracket. An excellent seatpost binder collar, all alloy and adjustable via two low-torque binder bolts, sits on top of the seat tube. Unlike the unusual Quintana Roo Illicito with its radical, asymmetrical chainstays the back of the CD 0.1 frame is symmetrical and robust.
A key feature to Quintana Roo’s current bike line are their excellent variable geometry seatposts. This is a bike fitter’s dream. A very wide range of effective seat tube angles can be dialed in including a very open 80 degree effective seat tube angle for a comfortable aero posture. The saddle angle and fore/aft position adjusts easily with minimal bolts and clamps securely.
Out of the box our test bike came with the “reader’s choice ” ISM Adamo saddle. This is the most commonly recommended aftermarket upgrade saddle on triathlon forums and includes a transition rack hook built into the shape of the saddle. This rear hook may interfere with the installation of some rear mount hydration rigs but, with the thoughtful inclusion of two bottle mounts on the frame there really isn’t a need for behind-the-saddle rigs.
The drivetrain on this CD 0.1 uses a SRAM alloy spider crank with carbon fiber arms. The front and rear derailleur is SRAM Red with its proven 1:1 pull ratio and low cable tension to maintain adjustments well over time, a boon for triathletes who may not perform much bike maintenance. The bike came with Powerglide 53/39 chainrings with pick-up rivets. The bolt pattern is 130 mm BCD but a compact 110 mm BCD crank can be easily installed.
The rear derailleur hanger is modular and replaceable and the rear dropouts are adjustable via a set of robust adjuster bolts. The new rear brake configuration is easier to work with and adjust compared to previous versions and accepts the new generation of wider aero wheels wide rims, as with the front brake. We even like the Continental brand tire spec on this version of the CD 0.1.
Quintana Roo’s approach to using their Shift technology across a line of bikes including this version of the CD 0.1 makes the technology available at a variety of prices with different component specs. Given the range of QR bike choices with the new Shift frame design this SRAM equipped version was one of my favorites. At $5199.95 with race wheels this is a strong way to buy into superbike technology from the company that invented the triathlon bike.